As MLB teams attempt to make their push toward the playoffs, organizations will do their best to add any player who can be a difference-maker.
Throughout the first half of the year, teams have been able to evaluate themselves and realize what they are missing. Fortunately, there are a number of impact players at each spot on the field that are likely available to provide an upgrade.
Although not everyone is willing to part with prospects to complete a trade, these teams have been the most aggressive on the market in recent weeks and are likely to finalize a deal soon.
Los Angeles Angels Adding Relief
The Angels have had one of the top offenses in baseball with a starting rotation that ranks 11th in the league. Unfortunately, the relievers have combined for a 3.89 ERA that ranks just 24th in the majors.
If Los Angeles wants to compete for a title this season, it will need to upgrade the bullpen as soon as possible. According to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (subscription required), change is apparently coming in the form of Huston Street:
Los Angeles Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, with the support of owner Arte Moreno, has been aggressive in trade talks in an effort to add more pitching. They've talked to the San Diego Padres about Huston Street, Ian Kennedy and even Tyson Ross, who probably won't get traded. Street told me the Padres have already talked to him about the real possibility of being traded before the deadline, and he's now expecting to be dealt.
Bowden notes that the value of Street—who was selected to the All-Star team thanks to his 1.09 ERA—is better than that of fellow Angels target Jonathan Papelbon.
Meanwhile, Street seems excited about the possibility of being dealt to the Angels. When asked about manager Mike Scioscia, the San Diego Padres closer explained, "That's one of the best managers, maybe, of all time. If I went there, I'd have a real chance to win," via Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
In an earlier article, Bowden noted that shortstop Jose Rondon will become a likely trade chip for the Angels in an effort to bring in an established reliever. He profiled the player in saying:
Rondon is a slightly-below-average defender at shortstop, but he should develop to a "solid average" grade in time. He's a solid average runner with no power. But he can really hit and has a short compact stroke. He has good plate discipline and knows how to work a count, draw walks and get on base. He profiles to be an "old-school" No. 2 type of hitter in a lineup and is a solid trade chip for GM Jerry Dipoto.
If the Padres can get Rondon in a package for Street, it would be a worthwhile move for the struggling team.
Seattle Mariners Need a Bat
Although the Seattle Mariners enter the second half of the year in third place in the AL West, they are currently in position to grab the second wild-card spot if the season ended today.
If the Mariners want to stay in this position, though, they will need an offensive boost to help a team that ranks 11 out of 15 AL teams in runs.
Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reported that the squad was interested in trading for Marlon Byrd:
Source said that #Mariners have had serious discussions with Phillies about Marlon Byrd. Said he is willing to waive his no trade clause.— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 13, 2014
While Byrd is having a solid year, he apparently has put Seattle on his no-trade list, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman notes that Josh Willingham and Alex Rios could be more likely scenarios with both of them being potential free agents at the end of the year.
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick points out that the Mariners are going to look for even more options:
Of these options, it seems like Rios would be the best pick for Seattle. Not only is he having a good season with a .305 batting average, 16 stolen bases and a league-leading eight triples, but he is playing for the last-place Texas Rangers.
Although Texas might not want to make a trade within the division, this might be a great way to get the most value out of a player in a lost season.
Cincinnati Reds Trying to Get Versatility
Although the Cincinnati Reds are hanging around in the division race, it will not be easy to keep this up with so many good players out. As long as Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and others remain on the disabled list, the Reds will struggle to score.
John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes that the Reds are interested in acquiring Ben Zobrist, but there is competition:
Talked to a Tampa writer about Zobrist: Lots of teams interested -- Mariners, Gaints. And Rays may keep him. Cheap for next year. #reds— John Fay (@johnfayman) July 11, 2014
Still, Bowden believes this would be an excellent addition:
Ben Zobrist would be perfect for Reds because he could play 1B 2B and LF while they wait for Phillips & Votto to return & Ludwick to hit— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) July 14, 2014
Although Zobrist cannot play all three positions at once, he has started at every position besides pitcher and catcher in the majors. Most of his career has been spent at second base, shortstop and right field, but he can clearly help out wherever he is needed.
If the Reds bring him in, they can keep moving him around as players get healthy. Even when the squad finally reaches full strength, Zobrist will have value anywhere on the field and will be a big help for the playoff push.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.